Governor Baker Includes $10 Million for Cultural Facilities Fund in First Capital Plan

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington has been able to modernize its facilities thanks to this program.

The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington has been able to modernize its facilities thanks to this program.

Boston, MA: Governor Charlie Baker announced today that his Administration’s first state capital plan includes $10 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund (CFF).

(The amount from the state’s capital funds dedicated to the arts and humanities is about one half of one percent. The Mass Cultural Council receives its funding separately which if added to this program would ring the total for the arts to about 1%. The 2015 awards for Western Massachusetts are shown below. A new round of grant applications for this program will take place in Fall, 2015. In a separate area of the overall $2.125 billion capital plan Berkshire Community College would get $6 million to renovate two classroom buildings, Hawthorne and Melville, on its Pittsfield campus. $35 million more will go to matching federal and MassPort money to dredge Boston Harbor, $19 million to providing high-speed broadband Internet access to rural communities, mostly in Western Massachusetts, $500 million on roads, bridges and highways and another $405 million on an “accelerated bridge” program to fix structurally deficient bridges. It would spend $90 million on maintaining public housing; $117 million on maintaining state-owned buildings; $200 million for local municipal road repairs; $65 million for a life sciences grant program. Given the size of the budget, it seems the anti-arts squawks we hear from the tax cut people might look elsewhere first. But it is easier to attack the $2 million which will be spent to plant trees in Gateway Cities, which include Chicopee, Holyoke, Pittsfield, Springfield and Westfield. – Ed.)

With this new Fiscal Year 2016 allocation, the Governor builds upon the investment of nearly $85 million in capital support for the nonprofit cultural sector through CFF. These grants have previously helped launch many transformative projects, leveraging private sector dollars that have kept the sector growing and thriving. CFF has also enabled hundreds of cultural non-profits to be good stewards of our cultural treasures.

“Governor Baker’s support for the Cultural Facilities Fund in his first capital plan makes the statement that this is a program that works,” said Anita Walker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). “These are high-impact dollars that will stretch to every corner of the Commonwealth. I’m delighted that this powerful program is positioned to continue its extraordinary reach.”

The Governor’s decision comes after a statewide advocacy campaign led by MASSCreative and MCC during which advocates including mayors and cultural leaders from across the state urged the Governor to continue the state’s investment in CFF.

MCC and MassDevelopment will begin to craft guidelines for the new round of CFF grants and hope to solicit applications in the fall.

The long dormant Mohawk Theatre in North Adams would be an ideal project for funding, however there does not seem to be the political will in that small, struggling city, to move forward on this long talked about restoration. Thanks to Tammy Daniels and iBerkshires for the photos. Ed.

Above: The Mohawk Theatre in North Adams, an ideal candidate for restoration and funding.

Cultural Facilities Fund projects expand access and education in the arts, history, and sciences; create jobs in construction and cultural tourism; and improve the quality of life in cities and towns across the Commonwealth. MassDevelopment and MCC jointly administer the CFF. A Governor-appointed Cultural Facilities Fund Advisory Committee provides oversight to the Fund’s operation. Get more background on CFF and its impact.

About MCC

The Massachusetts Cultural Council is a state agency supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. The MCC pursues this mission through grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.

About MassDevelopment

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2014, MassDevelopment financed or managed 314 projects generating investment of more than $2.9 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 6,300 jobs and build or rehabilitate more than 1,600 residential units.

2015 Grants in Western Massachusetts



Berkshire Botanical Garden, Stockbridge
Berkshire Botanical GardenProject: Facility Renovation
Grant: $270,000

About the Facility: The Berkshire Botanical Garden rests on 15 acres of land with 26 display gardens and plant collections, three greenhouses, and a woodland reserve. The historic Center house, dating back to 1770, is approximately 4,000 square feet, and is the oldest building on the Garden’s grounds.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Berkshire Botanical Garden $270,000 for the renovation of the historic Center House, built circa 1770, into an energy efficient, multi-use facility with flexible education/meeting spaces.


The Berkshire Theatre Group, Stockbridge
Berkshire Theatre Group, exterior of Fitzpatrick Main Stage in StockbridgeProject: Facility Renovation & Adaptation
Grant: $360,000

About the Facility: Berkshire Theatre Group supports wide ranging artistic exploration and accliamed performances in theatre, dance, music, and entertainment, with campuses in Stockbridge and Pittsfield. The Clapp House in Pittsfield was built circa 1871 and has most recently operated as a bed and breakfast. The Collins House in Stockbridge is a wood-framed building that currently houses administrative offices.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded The Berkshire Theatre Group $360,000 to convert The Clapp House and parts of the Collins House into long-term housing for up to 65 seasonal staff members.


Community Music School of Springfield, Springfield
Community Music School of Springfield, facadeProject: Facility Renovation & Preservation
Grant: $63,000

About the Facility: Community Music School of Springfield’s home is an Art Deco style, 34,000-sq-ft former bank listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To better accommodate its annual audience of 40,000, CMSS recently moved its offices from the former bank lobby, an impressive space with high ceilings and an Art Deco mural, to make way for a new concert hall.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Community Music School of Springfield $63,000 for the installation of energy efficient lighting and acoustic tiles, renovation of basement studios, energy efficiency upgrades, bathroom installation, and preservation of an historic 1930s mural.


Dewey Memorial Hall, Sheffield
Dewey Memorial Hall, exteriorProject: System Upgrades
Grant: $30,000

About the Facility: Dewey Memorial Hall was created to improve the cultural and economic revitalization of Sheffield’s central district through the arts. Its current facility, dating back to 1887, houses a community-based cultural facility that serves as a venue for concerts, lectures, art exhibitions, theater, and other community events.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Dewey Memorial Hall $30,000 for the installation of a new HVAC system, insulation, and lighting equipment.


The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington

Great Barrington's gem.

Great Barrington’s gem.

Project: Facility Renovation & System Upgrades
Grant: $50,000

About the Facility: The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center presents music, dance, theater, and film in a 101-year-old, 700-seat theater. Most of the theater has been newly restored with the expertise of architect Hugh Hardy, but additional improvements need to be made to bring the facility up to 21st-century standards for a theatrical venue.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center $50,000 to replace obsolete lighting and projection equipment, repair the theater entrance steps and install an automatic door, and make improvements to backstage area.


Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, ,North Adams
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Chuch Street Center exteriorProject: Accessibility Upgrades & Facility Renovation
Grant: $440,000

About the Facility: The Church Street Center of MCLA’s campus is the site of the Fine & Performing Arts department, including performance space and recording rooms.  Its auditorium and social hall are used for college and community sponsored cultural events and ceremonies.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts $440,000 for accessibility improvements and stage expansion.


Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams
[Img: Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, entrance]
Project: Facility Renovation & System Upgrades
Grant: $170,000

About the Facility: MASS MoCA features contemporary visual and performing arts on its 16-acre campus, which houses a complex of twenty-seven 19th century mill buildings. In 1995, MASS MoCA acquired the property and began renovations of over 600,000 sq ft of the facility to serve as galleries, theaters, a café, support spaces, and commercial space.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art $170,000 for roof repairs, and upgrades to HVAC, sound and lighting.


Saint James Place, Great Barrington
Saint James Place, exterior and towerProject: Facility Restoration & Preservation
Grant: $500,000

About the Facility: Saint James Place consists of two adjoining historic buildings that were once the sanctuary and parish house of the former St. James Episcopal Church. The English Gothic Revival Style dates to 1857 and has a seating capacity of 304. The parish house was completed in 1911 and features two versatile spaces suited for smaller performances or meetings.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Saint James Place $500,000 for the restoration and preservation of facilities for use as a year-round cultural arts center.


Stockbridge Library Association, Stockbridge
Stockbridge Library Association, exteriorProject: Accessibility Upgrades & Facility Renovation
Grant: $600,000

About the Facility: The Stockbridge Library Association and its Historical Museum & Archives offer comprehensive library services in addition to a diverse-array of adult and family-oriented cultural programs. The original building dates to 1864, with an addition that opened in 1937.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Stockbridge Library Association $600,000 to implement universal accessibility, address mechanical and infrastructural code deficiencies, and enhance underutilized space for display and preservation of the historical collection.


West Stockbridge Historical Society, West Stockbridge
West Stockbridge Historical Society, exterior of Town HallProject: Accessibility Upgrades & Facility Renovation
Grant: $40,000

About the Facility: The West Stockbridge Historical Society acquired the mid-19th century Town Hall in 2009, and has been renovating the space with the intent to create a cultural center that features a local history research center and museum, performance space, and community meeting space.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded West Stockbridge Historical Society $40,000 for accessibility improvements including rebuilding the front foundation and sills; repair of cellar joists and columns, and to waterproof cellar floor.


WGBY TV 57, Springfield
WGBY, headquarters facadeProject: System Upgrades
Grant: $100,000

About the Facility: As a public television station, WGBY functions as a center where artists, performers, educators, and others convene to perform, interpret art, and plan cultural activities shared throughout the local community and region.

About the Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded WGBY TV 57 $100,000 for upgrades to audio and lighting equipment in production studios.



CitySpace, Easthampton
Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded CitySpace $15,000 for the design of preliminary architectural plans regarding the second floor of Old Town Hall.
Grant: $15,000

Ventfort Hall Association, Lenox
Project: The Cultural Facilities Fund awarded Ventfort Hall Association $35,000 to develop an historic structures report and maintenance plan as well as a fundraising plan to support the restoration and the maintenance of the existing structure and of new equipment.
Grant: $35,000

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